Hiphop/bluegrass mashup: Gangstagrass

Mashup artist Rench has released a free album of "gangstagrass" music -- hiphop mashed with bluegrass. The mixes are really good, in that, "Hey, who knew those two really different flavors worked so well together?" way that makes mashups so much fun to listen to.

Introducing block rockin' honky-tonk, New American music for the 21st century, built with love in a little studio, hand crafted, running on inspiration and imagination and duct tape, calling on the spirit of Gram Parsons and Otis Redding and KRS-ONE and Dolly Parton and Nina Simone and Willie Nelson and Missy Elliott and Johnny Cash, to write about what we feel and play what our hearts tell us, because to make it happen is reason enough, and to share it with the world is all the reason you need, because we tell the truth with music and the truth is beautiful.
Link to Gangstagrass album download, Link to information about Rench (Thanks, Brooklyn Twang!)


  1. I am really enjoying this. The style of guitar lends itself to beats so well. The sampling is quite good too, in track 4.

  2. Thanks, but be sure to check out Groovegrass (1998), a cool collaboration of Bootsy Collins, Doc Watson, Mac Wiseman, if you can find it.

  3. Downloading zip and listening to the tracks. Very, very good. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. People who enjoy this would also probably like Applindia by The Beatgeek (a mixing of hip hop, Appalachian folk music, and traditional Indian music) and Porch by Buck 65 (purely acoustic versions of his songs, including a mash-up of his song Wicked and Weird with Coo-coo Bird). Unfortunately, both of these are pretty tough to find, but I thought that I’d plug them anyway, since they’re both done by talented struggling underground hip hoppers, and both excellent.

  5. And here I was worrying that I’ve not been finding enough new good music lately.

    This stuff is brilliant. I’ll only stop listening to it because there’s a Miyazaki movie on the TV.

  6. i’m a bit disappointed that rench chose to use little-known independent MCs for this. a lot of the fun of mashups is recognizing the source material, so using unknown acapellas limits the appeal somewhat. no disrespect to the MCs who were used, as they’re clearly talented, but i probably would’ve enjoyed this more if it actually used acapellas by KRS-ONE and missy elliot rather than merely name-dropping them in the description.

    the tracks are quite well-produced, though.

    p.s. shameless self-promotion: mashup fans might enjoy my latest EP, which has been described as “girl talk meets john oswald”. there are no bluegrass samples, but there are missy elliot samples.

  7. STALLIO – I know what you meen, mash-ups are funnest when its two tracks you know already layered over each other. But maybe pitching Gangstagrass as a mash-up was not quite accurate, though it seemed like the closest term I could think of. In fact, the emcees on Gangstagrass actually recorded their vocals at Rench’s studio, and then he went and created new beats and sampled lots of bluegrass and edited it around the vocals. So it’s kind of beyond mash-up, it’s sample based but creatively built, rather than just lining up two existing tracks and putting a whole acapella to a whole instrumental.

    Also, the Missy Elliot and KRS-ONE references are from a description on Rench’s site about his influences, he’s generally not a “mash-up artist” and does lots of completely original recordings with custom recorded fiddle and pedal steel with singing, beats and scratching.

  8. brooklyn twang: yeah, i’m not sure what else to call it, either. and in fairness to you, rench describes it on his site as a “full-length mashup”.

    the term “mashup” is used so broadly these days it’s hard to know what it means anymore. there’s been some debate about whether my own work constitutes “mashup”; it’s definitely not under the definition you just gave, but i think it’s coming from a similar place and would appeal to a lot of the same people. so i know where you’re coming from in trying to promote music that isn’t-quite-mashup-but-close.

    as for gangstergrass, though, it’s not so much a mashup as a simple hip-hop record based around bluegrass samples. stylistically it reminds me more of that classic age of hip-hop sampling in the ’80s and early ’90s, back before the lawsuits came and changed everything. but that’s a good thing.

  9. I think the Gourds’ cover of Gin and Juice is the definitive blend of hiphop and bluegrass:

  10. Wow! Flashback 1984, 10 years old… my best friend and I recorded our own songs via holdin down a “play” and “record” button on my cassette deck. Our new style of music. It was a fusion of country music and rap. We called it “Crap”. :) (Gosh I wish I still had that tape.)

  11. I don’t wanna be all, “I liked him before he was cool,” but I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating on some theatre pieces over the past few years with him when he was still in New York. He’s an incredibly talented artist and performer and a kickass DJ. So glad all of you know about him now!

  12. I don’t wanna be all, “I liked him before he was cool,”

    Why on Earth not? What’s wrong with justifiable pride in one’s judgement and taste?

  13. My sixth grade English teacher rarely went a day without telling us that she saw Tom Jones perform in a little club in Wales with only a dozen people in the audience. Since she’s still teaching the same class in the same school forty years later, she’s probably still telling the same story.

  14. Downloaded this morning, only had the chance to listen now- this is amazing! Will tell all friends etc. Wow.

  15. Looks like he’s now got a link to a bit torrent of the album on the gangstagrass site.

  16. The two go together beautifully – I’ts not unusual that I will sing the Yin Yang Twins’ “Get Low” while playing a clawhammer banjo accompaniment.

  17. A non-trivial portion of the lyrical content of bluegrass is about shooting, killing, going to prison, women doing you wrong, and all that sorta gangsta stuff.

    ‘ had a 44 buckled around her, and a banjo on her knee’

  18. In high school, my friends and i created a fictitious “industrial gothic country rap” band, thinking it might never be possible.

    Little did we know…

  19. This is awesome – any chance of higher quality mp3’s (somewhat let down by the 128 crap sound) Thanks a lot!!!

  20. A friend gave me the entire thing on a burn a while ago. Everyone i’ve introduced it to has absolutely loved it. I feel the blending of styles makes a lot of sense. Rap and blue grass are both originally musical traditions whose themes center on social struggle and dealing with injustice

  21. Seems to me that they’re using some songs from this on the TNT show “Justified.” Good stuff.

  22. I love, love, love Gangstagrass! CIO: Lightning on the Strings, Thunder on the Mic. AND Rench and T.O.N.E-z were nominated for an Emmy for “Long, Hard Times to Come,” theme song for TV series “Justified.” AND they (and their wonderful music) will be featured again in the new second season!

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